As we all know, true crime has entered the mainstream like never before, so much so that there have been several successful parodies of the genre like Netflix’s mockumentary series American Vandal and The Onion’s podcast A Very Fatal Murder. Every month there seems to be a new smash hit TV or podcast series like Wild Wild Country or Dirty John. America is obsessed with crime, obsessed with murder and the mysteries of how and why it happens, and for better or for worse, that obsession doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Especially with the arrest of the Golden State Killer just months after the late Michelle McNamara’s book about her hunt for the California area killer from the 70s and 80s hit shelves—and the New York Times’ bestseller list.
Now the event producer Bright Young Things has created a festival for lovers of popular true crime. Death Becomes Us will feature podcasters, authors, and television personalities at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC from Saturday, November 3rd and Sunday, November 4th of this year. The guest list is still unfolding, and so is the concept for the event itself. So far, Last Podcast On The Left, Buzzfeed Unsolved, and How Did This Get Made - (A Very Special) True Crime Edition have signed onto the event and will likely host question and answer sessions.
Apparently the company is also in talks with media companies like Netflix and Amazon, hoping to premiere some of their newest true crime projects at the festival.
BYT’s cofounder Svetlana Legetic told the story of how the idea came to fruition. She asked her company, "What else is out there that we love to talk about in the office besides comedy?" and their head of marketing wrote “True crime festival” on a napkin and slid it over to her. Everyone was immediately onboard.
The festival aims to explore the "intersection of true crime and pop culture’s fascination with it," Svetlana said. The company is also looking for ways to make the two-day event more immersive: "Maybe we'll have a mystery to solve over the course of the weekend," she said.
The All-Access passes that were selling for $101 are already sold out but tickets to individual shows will go on sale soon. On their website you can sign up for email updates as well.
Since the official guest list is still forming, here’s who I’d most like to see at Death Becomes Us:
Billy Jensen, Paul Haynes, and Patton Oswalt of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
These men, of course, are responsible for finishing Michelle McNarama’s unrivaled book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark after her untimely death. The highly-anticipated book about Michelle’s hunt for the Golden State Killer hit the New York Times Bestseller list right away, and two months later, police arrested the man that Michelle had spent her last days trying to find. The GSK case has been a whirlwind, and no true crime festival could possibly be complete without the year’s most incredible true crime story. Check out my interviews with Billy and Paul here and here.
Madeleine Baran and the crew behind In the Dark
If you aren’t listening to season two of In the Dark, stop whatever you are doing and add it to your podcast app. Season two focuses on the case of Curtis Flowers, a black man imprisoned in Mississippi for a triple homicide that the podcast asserts he did not commit. He has appealed the case six times, and after each appeal, the DA retries the case, with shaky evidence and methods of trial manipulation. I cannot recommend this podcast enough; the producers use the case of Curtis Flowers to highlight national problems within our court system, and damn if they don’t know how to tell a riveting, emotional story. It’s the most important podcast of the year.
Christopher Goffard, Host of Dirty John
Dirty John was the number one podcast on 2017 iTunes charts for weeks. Chris is a journalist turned podcaster that told the story of a dangerous con man’s affect on a woman and her family. The story is absolutely WILD and also an important one. It highlights the dangers of coercive control in romantic relationships. It also has one of the most satisfying, surprising, and badass endings of all time. Not just that—Bravo is making Dirty John into a TV series starring Connie Britton. Here is an interview I did with Chris.
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (and Steven) of My Favorite Murder
What can I even say about My Favorite Murder? These folks are the reigning champs of true crime. Hilarious, compassionate, and responsible with their fame, these women deserve all the love they get, and it’d be a dream to see them at Death Becomes Us. Their enormous cult community is one of the only cults I can get down with.
So, if you are in the DC area or are dedicated enough and finically-able to travel there, keep an eye out for the event tickets to go on sale. I’m excited to see who and what will be added to the list. Who would you love to see at Death Becomes Us?